Sunday, July 16th, 2017

An afternoon at the Science Museum followed by a visit to Kensington Gardens before my only BBC Proms concert this year; dinner at Scoff & Banter; a pint at the Stanhope Arms; a last snack run to Tesco

Best Western the Cromwell (Cromwell Road)



Today was a very nice day and not just in terms of the weather.

It occurred to me that I actually had another option–do something/go somewhere here in the local area before heading over to the Royal Albert Hall for the BBC Proms concert at 3:45 PM instead of trying to do something in a different part of town and still make it back for the concert. The Science Museum is just up the street a few blocks and around the corner and is sort of on the way from here to the RAH. I like science museums, with or without planetariums (this one has VR machines and simulators and an IMAX but no planetarium). I can usually get through a science museum in a couple of hours since I don't play with most of the hands on interactive displays or stop and read all the signs, just enjoy the exhibits. That meant I could hang out here, have a Slimfast at about 11:30, and head on over to the museum around noon.

I was there early enough to get a 12:30 PM ticket to the special exhibit on robots, which was very well done and quite interesting. I wasn't hungry yet so I decided not to stop at any of the museum's cafes but was out of there around 2 PM. At first I sat on a bench which was right next to one of the entrances to the South Kensington Tube station then I decided to walk on up Exhibition Road to Kensington High Street which runs between Kensington Gardens and the RAH and past the Albert Memorial. I remembered that over by the entrance past the RAH, closer to Kensington Palace, are some benches and a small café. I still wasn't hungry and decided to not even get something to drink but just found a bench to sit on until about 3 PM when I headed on in for this afternoon's concert.

I had done OK with my seat for tonight's concert, keeping in mind the two constraints that leg room is crap anywhere in the whole Hall and that the only concert goers who have a good, straight view of the performers are the ones standing right in front of the stage due to the oval nature of the hall. With 6 on the clock being the stage, with the performers between 5 and 7, with 12 being directly across from the stage, I was pretty close to 9 on the clock, a few seats in on the first row in the topmost tiers. At a guess I'd say I was about four stories above the stage.

The nicely dressed couple seated to my right were jerks and kept up a whispered conversation off and on throughout the entire concert, including when the violin soloist was in the middle of a solo cadenza. I admit that the young woman was quite attractive and sexy and if she had been seated next to me instead of the guy I would have been intensely aware of her the entire time. I should have said something like "Would you please shut the fuck up?" or the more polite "Is the concert interfering with your conversation?" but I didn't.

I am pleased that even with the crappy leg room I kept my fidgeting to a minimum. I stood as long as I could before the concert and during the intermission which probably helped.

This afternoon's concert was pretty well attended, I'd say between 80 and 90% full. It was quite good and featured an ensemble I'd never heard of before and the only piece I actually was familiar with was the encore but since it of course isn't listed on the program I have no idea what the title or composer were.

Because I wanted to know what the composer and titles were of the concert's selection I bought the 4 GBP souvenir program, from which I tour the single relevant page and dumped the rest.

This afternoon's ensemble was the Chamber Orchestra of Europe conducted by Bernard Haitink.

Both pieces in the first half were by Mozart and were well done and quite enjoyable–"Symphony No 38 in D major" and the "Violin concerto No 3 in G major" with Isabelle Faust as the soloist.

The entire second half consisted of a single piece, which I found to be the highlight of the entire concert since it was more energetic and engaging than the two in the first half–Robert Schumann's "Symphony No 2 in C major".

When I left the RAH I seriously thought about taking a cab back here to the hotel or just Gloucester Road, primarily because by then I was starting to feel mild effects of low blood sugar but since I had one of my canes with me as usual it wasn't that bad.

When I had looked at the menu for Scoff and Banter, this British restaurant chain that has a branch in one of the hotels on Gloucester Road down the street, I hadn't seen anything other than their set menu which didn't look too appetizing. This evening, however, I went past it on the way back here to the hotel I looked at the menu they had outside which looked much better with several entrees, appetizers, and desserts that looked pretty good so I went in. I think I was one of the few people eating then who weren't staying there in the hotel; there were lots of families and couples and down at the far end a large group who seemed to be having a buffet. I had their leek & potato soup which they served in a mug, bless them, their fish or fisherman's pie (shepherd's pie with seafood instead of lamb, basically), and a serving of their chocolate & orange bread & butter pudding which comes with an additional small jug of chocolate sauce. Everything was great and delicious. Service was a bit slower than it should have been but I wasn't in a hurry.

It was still early when I left the restaurant, and I didn't want to come back here yet. I decided I'd check and see if I could find an empty small table at the Starbucks or the Stanhope Arms. There were several at Starbucks but when I got to the Arms I did indeed find one, which was probably only empty because it had a sign on it that said it was reserved at 8:45 PM. It was only about 8 then so I knew I could have my pint and be out of the way by then, so I did.

I stopped at the Tesco Express on the way for my usual late night snack run.

I am even less excited about going back home to flat, to me boring South Florida than usual this trip mostly because I'm not actually going home. I'll be spending at least the next week at another hotel, even if this one has its own kitchen so I can save a bit of money by not needing to have every meal out, because as I was informed this Friday they were still working on the mold removal and so the reconstruction work has not even started. I'm also not looking forward to having to straighten out the confusion with my insurance adjuster.

I don't hate South Florida, Broward County, of the Fort Lauderdale area but it is boringly flat with little in the way of historical interest and with the few cultural venues other than clubs widely scattered throughout the county and no pubs within walking distance.

I could stay here in London for another month or two and never see all of the historical or cultural sites on my long wish list, let alone go to all the special events going on throughout the summer but back I go to South Florida tomorrow.

It's now only 9:45 PM. I need to call the Extended Stay America, where I'll be staying from tomorrow until at least Tuesday the 25th, and see if I can get the same room tomorrow night and for the separate reservation I made from Tuesday to the following Tuesday (when I made the reservation first I accidentally made it beginning with Tuesday instead of Monday) and to see if I can get a room on the ground floor since I don't think there are elevators.

And that's all I have to do until tomorrow morning. I can't fit my new bowler in my hat box with all the my other hats. I could wear it on the plane and put it in the overhead luggage compartment but it might get crushed and I don't want to actually have to wear it for the entire nine hour flight. There is an outlet of Mailboxes Etc that's just a couple of blocks away around the corner which opens at 8:30 AM and my pickup for the ride to the airport is at 9:30. I was going to just ship my bowler then decided I might as well add the top hat, but then thought I might as well include my hat box as well. I am, after all, going back to where the rest of my hats are so I'll have plenty to wear until the ones I have with me here get back home. If I get up about 7 AM, I'll have plenty of time to shower and shave, pack and get everything downstairs before 8:30 to make it over to the MBE in plenty of time before my 9:30 ride.

And that's it from London for this trip.

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